Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Disneyland Trip Report November 9-13 2012: Day 1

Well, I'm about a week removed from my recent trip to Disneyland resort in Anaheim California, and to be honest, I can't stop thinking and talking about it. Disneyland and the Disneyland resort completely blew away my very high expectations, and that's saying something. Everything they do at Disneyland is the way it should be done. The parks are treated with care and reverence, and they do not cut corners on the small stuff.

But enough about all that, you want all the juicy details!

Day 1-November 9, 2012

I took off from the Philadelphia International Airport around 11:40AM on a Virgin America flight. I need to take a moment to really rave about Virgin America. I flew Virgin Atlantic on my trip to London and Paris in April, and was excited to see if the great service there carried over to the American counterpart. I'm happy to say it does. You don't get the free movies like you do for overseas flights, but you get free satellite TV and unlimited beverages, which is great.

I landed at LAX around 2:30 PM, and since I didn't check any bags, I headed straight for the Disneyland Resort Express pickup. Disneyland doesn't have a Magical Express bus, and this is the main mode of transportation to the resort for those not driving. The motor coach only took ten to fifteen minutes to show up, and about ten minutes after that we were on our way to the resort.

The ride there wasn't terrible, but I wasn't overly fond of our driver. He was dead set on doing this little comedy routine over the mic that was going over like a lead balloon.

But eventually I made it to the Ramada Plaza on Katella Ave, checked in, and grabbed a shower before heading to Disneyland.

Now, I wasn't originally supposed to be at Disneyland solo, but my friend and his wife had some family issues at home they had to fly to and take care of, which left me as a solo DLR adventurer.

I walked the short distance up Harbor Blvd to the Disneyland resort, and as I passed through security, I couldn't help the huge smile that came across my face. Seeing the Main Street USA Railroad Station was just amazing. This is the park that Walt Disney built, walked through, and enjoyed. That alone made this trip special.

Right off the bat I went to the Matterhorn and jumped into the single rider line. Disneyland really uses the single rider approach much better than Walt Disney World, but still not as well as Universal Orlando Resort. Matterhorn was a lot of fun, if not a bit uncomfortable. The bobsleds are definitely awkward to sit in, and could benefit from padding on the seats. But the ride itself is great fun, and I especially enjoyed the snow effect in the first lift hill.

From there, I went to see my old friend Mr. Toad. Toad was always a favorite when I was a kid, and I was ecstatic to take that madcap trip through Toad Hall, and to Hell, yet again. What a great attraction.

From there I walked around the park a bit before grabbing a plate of jambalaya, cornbread, and a mint julep from the French Market. I grabbed a seat outside and started to chow down, and so began my love affair with Disneyland Resort's quick service food. Such great flavor and ingredients. And to top it off, the jazz band started playing on the stage in front of me! How great!

From there, I took in the attractions of New Orleans Square. First up, was Haunted Mansion Holiday, and wow, was this a pleasant surprise. As most of you probably know, the Haunted Mansion in the Magic Kingdom is my favorite attraction there, and I found Phantom Manor to be great, but it just made me want to ride the regular mansion.

Not so here. First of all, the exterior and approach to the Mansion here is the best I've seen, and in my opinion, the Florida exterior is the worst I've seen. Walking up to the plantation house is just great. Inside, the portraits, stretch room, and narration was different, but in a nice way for the holidays to be celebrated. I loved some of the new AAs in there like Jack and Oogie Boogie.

From there, I went to check out Pirates of the Caribbean. I really like the building it's located in, and awed at the loading area and the bayou at the beginning. Sure, the queue isn't as good as WDW's, but having a great ride easily makes up for that. The caverns and the drops here are really fun, but the Jack Sparrow storyline still is a detriment to the overall experience, in my opinion. Still a fantastic ride.

Next, I went to the hub for the fireworks. I'll be honest, I've never been a huge fan of Christmas fireworks, and Believe in Holiday Magic did nothing to change that. I just feel like most holiday songs don't fit fireworks, and the colors usually only consists of red/green/white. Just not my cup of tea, but the crowd enjoyed it.

Finally for the night, I went and waited for Fantasmic. Now, I know a lot of people complain about the Fantasmic setup for DHS, but this was no better. You still have to show up an hour early to get a decent seat, and even then you're sitting on the ground rather than benches.

But of course, the show completely blows the suffering DHS one out of the water. The use of the Columbia and the Mark Twain really bring a sense of authenticity, and the finale dragon is seriously great.

After that, I headed back to the room for a good night's sleep, as I was already dragging from the flight earlier.

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